An investigation of the step-wise propagation of a mode-II fracture in a poroelastic medium

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In this paper we use an eXtended Finite Element Method based model for the simulation of shear fracture in fully saturated porous materials. The fracture is incorporated as a strong discontinuity in the displacement field by exploiting the partition of unity property of finite element shape functions. The pressure is assumed to be continuous across the fracture. However, the pressure gradient, i.e. the fluid flow, can be discontinuous. The failure process is described by the cohesive zone approach and a Tresca fracture condition without dilatancy. We investigate the propagation of a shear fracture under compression asking the question whether or not a Tresca criterion can result in stepwise propagation in a poroelastic medium. In order to evaluate possible numerical artefacts, we also look at the influence of the element size and the magnitude of a time increment. The performance of the X-FEM model and the influence of the pore pressure on the fracture propagation are addressed. Our simulations do not show evidence for step wise progression in mode II failure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-15
Number of pages6
JournalMechanics Research Communications
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • EXtended Finite Element Method
  • Porous materials
  • Shear fractures


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